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Dual international believes Crusaders can still be a threat in the playoffs

By Finn Morton
Sevu Reece of the Crusaders (bottom centre) reacts after scoring a try during the round two Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and NSW Waratahs at AAMI Park, on March 02, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

If the Crusaders can turn their season around and claim a spot in the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs then other teams may need to watch out according to dual international Mat Rogers.

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Defending champions the Crusaders currently sit second-last on the ladder with a surprising 1-6 record. The Western Force are the only team below them, and that’s who they’ll face in a decisive clash at Perth’s HBF Park on Saturday.

The Crusaders are coming off a heartbreaking golden point defeat to the NSW Waratahs in Sydney but they have a chance to make sure their trip across the Tasman isn’t for nothing in probably their most important game so far.

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Rob Penney’s men can leapfrog the Highlanders and Waratahs into ninth place with a win out west, which would then place them just a couple of points out of a spot in the top eight.

Former Wallaby Mat Rogers, who also represented the Australia Kangaroos in rugby league, would be “nervous” to tip against the Crusaders if they manage to work their way up the ladder and into a playoff-qualifying position.

“Well I can’t believe the Crusaders are in this position,” Rogers said on Stan Sports’ The Night Before Gameday.

“I thought after their first win, okay this will be something that’ll get them over the hump.

“You know what still fascinates me? They’re two games out of the eight – that’s it, only two games out of the top eight. If they get to the eight, I’d be nervous to be against them.”

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After their worst-ever start to a season in team history, the Crusaders showed signs of life in a statement win over the high-flying Chiefs in Hamilton at the end of last month.

Head-to-Head

Last 4 Meetings

Wins
1
Draws
0
Wins
3
Average Points scored
22
36
First try wins
50%
Home team wins
75%

It was the result they needed going into a bye week, but they weren’t able to repeat those heroics in the end against a valiant Waratahs outside at Allianz Stadium one week ago.

Wing Sevu Reece scored inside the opening minute as the Crusaders got off to an idyllic start in Sydney, but the Waratahs – to their credit – just wouldn’t go away.

Replacement Will Harrison scored an 83rd-minute penalty goal to send the contest to extra time, and the fly-half was the hero once again with a drop goal to win it shortly after.

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But there are positives to take out of it for the Crusaders, including a rapid double to Reece. The All Black has been named to start in the No. 14 jumper against the Western Force.

“The only time they’ve had a horrible season was right back when the comp first started in ’96,” former Wallaby Justin Harrison added.

“You’ve got blokes like Sevu Reece, unbelievable with the ball and also without the game… he comes in looking for work, six tries this season.

“That’s the thing about New Zealand sides, they get half a chance, guys like Sevu Reece (get) half a chance – points. Nine times out of ten.”

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Abe 2 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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T
Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

17 Go to comments
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